Personal Computing History

My personal desktop computing history started with a C64 - I even owned the 1581 3.5" drive (800K capacity). I wrote some games on it, first in Basic, then in Assembler and won an XT at a local programming contest which my father graciously upgraded to a 286-10. After that I owned one of the first 486DX-33, a K6-233 and now a PIII-600. I could never part with any of them and I still have an old 386SX notebook lying around somewhere...I had so much fun with all of them and even made some money, so it would be cruel to give them to someone else. ;-)

My personal mobile computing history began in 1995 when I was one of the first in Europe to buy a Timex Datalink 150 - incidentially the only watch that bears the name of Microsoft on its front panel. During my studies of computer science this watch woke me up, measured the exact five minutes for my English Breakfeast Tea, reminded me of appointments, kept telephone numbers and even remembered the occasional shopping list. The watch was loaded with new data over my CRT monitor by virtue of blinking vertical lines, white on black background. I even had a few weeks of fun hacking it along with some people from the US, only to discover that 1000 bytes of 6805HC machine code are not really that much to work with... at least I was able to dump the ROM using beep sounds which were recorded via soundblaster and analyzed in two stages. The combination of watch and personal information manager still holds much appeal to me - i.e. no extra weight, no thing to forget since I always carry a watch - truly "wearable computing".

However due to its construction as read-only device it was ultimately too limiting (in absence of a fixed curriculum) having to keep appointments, telephone numbers and course notes on physical paper and "scanning" (entering it into the computer system) it at least daily - so I went out to get a new system. A complete wearable computing system was too obtrusive, the Palm wasn't powerful enough and so I settled for this device where I currently write this paragraph - a Casio Cassiopeia E-105G.

While the hardware is excellent, the software (Win CE 2.11) is not. Once I even lost data due to system crashes and it is a shame that Microsoft was unable to use the 4MBit FastIrDA which the integrated NEC VR processor supports and instead uses USB for their new "Windows Powered PC" (=Win CE 3.0, which has other bugs) - a step back from wireless to cable! I'm waiting for LinuxCE... Furthermore many devices just like mine were destroyed by Casio in a trade-in for a new Cassiopeia E-115G and try as I might I could not convince them to at least leave me my old E-105G. So I refrained from updating and am still using it. After more than six years it still works fine, although I had to update the LiIon battery once.

The newest device on my list is the Nokia Internet Tablet, which I bought for Christmas 2005. It runs a variant of Debian Linux, has Wireless LAN and BlueTooth connectivity, one RS-MMC slot and a resolution of 800x480 which is pretty good for a PDA. The browser can now display practically all internet pages, and in the newest release, VoIP telephony should work as well. Finally a worthy successor! But it will still be much work to get it to the level of my previous device... on the other hand, from then on it should become simpler, since I can always get the source code and port my applications to a new platform.

© 1999-2006 by Alexander K. Seewald.